Light rail up Queen St is back on the agenda - three years after the idea was ditched by the John Banks-led Auckland City Council.
A waterfront masterplan being launched by Auckland City Mayor Dick Hubbard today proposes light rail along Quay St, possibly extending up Queen St to Karangahape Rd.
Mr Hubbard said the options included light rail from St Heliers along Tamaki Drive to Quay St and across a new bridge to the Tank Farm. Extending it up Queen St was another option, but this was way down the track, he said. In the meantime, the council is pushing on with controversial plans to introduce bus lanes in Queen St and leave just one lane for cars.
Former Mayor Christine Fletcher promised in 1999 to build a light rail system from Britomart up Queen St to the university, hospital and Newmarket. Mr Banks' council cancelled this in favour of a 3km heavy rail underground loop from Britomart via Albert St and Mayoral Drive to the western rail line at Mt Eden.
The latest light rail proposal has come as a surprise to the Auckland Regional Council, the transport-planning agency which has rejected light rail for the heavy rail loop.
Chief executive Peter Winder said the regional council had little input into the waterfront masterplan. Chairman Mike Lee felt snubbed after the regional and city councils had agreed to work together to implement the Auckland Waterfront Vision 2040.
"When we shake hands on a deal we mean it," Mr Lee said. "I'm getting the feeling this is a one-way relationship."
He said the ARC managed to get a copy of the masterplan yesterday only with a "great deal of difficulty".
Mr Lee said it would have been helpful if the regional council was consulted on issues such as light rail and the future of the finger wharves - Queens, Captain Cook and Marsden - which it owns through its property arm, Auckland Regional Holdings.
Mr Hubbard, who has prided himself on improving relations with other councils after Mr Banks' "Muldoonist" attacks on other mayors, rebutted the suggestion the city council was taking a "me-first" approach to the waterfront. He said he had not personally asked Mr Lee to be part of today's launch but produced documents to show Mr Lee was invited to attend a pre-briefing and his office declined.
He said the council had been working on the masterplan with Auckland Regional Holdings and Ports of Auckland at the request of Mr Winder.
Mr Winder responded: "I don't recall that."